Spring is technically here – despite the snow currently falling on the east coast – which means it’s the best time of year to start cleaning out your storage areas, and prepping for a garage sale weekend. I have a one-day garage sale every spring. Over the years, I’ve definitely learned a thing or two about how to get the best bang for my garage sale buck.
Here are my tried and true tips for having a successful garage sale:
1 Month Before
• Start sorting out your belongings, and decide on what you’re going to sell.
• Ask your friends if they’d like to participate. “Mega” or “multi family” garage sales tend to be the ones garage salers hit up first, as they have more items to pick through.
• Decide on a date. Don’t forget to factor in long weekends, big local events, and potential bad weather.
1-2 Weeks Before
• Post your initial ad on Craigslist, Kijiji or Used.com (depending on your location). Include a general overview of what types of items garage salers can expect to find, your address, and the timeframe you’ll be selling in.
• Go all out and place an ad in the newspaper. Even though newspapers may be on their way to “outdated,” they’re still a go-to place for garage salers.
• If you have any community bulletin boards, print out a sign and throw it up there, too.
• Sort all of the stuff you’re selling into piles. It’ll make pricing and the eventual day-of organizing much easier.
• Once everything is sorted, get that pricing gun out and get to work. EVERYTHING should have a price on it.
• For large ticket items like furniture or bicycles, write the price on a piece of paper, and tape the paper directly to the item. It’s much easier to see, and will remove the need to hunt needlessly for a teeny tiny sticker.
• If you have a bunch of weird items you can’t see selling separately, combine them into grab bags. To make it extra fun, pick up some brown paper bags and sell surprise(!) grab bags.
• Get a big Sharpie and some neon cardstock, and start cranking out your signs. I generally make at between 6 to 10.
• Optional: Head to your nearest bulk discount store and buy a pack or two of soda/pop. On the day of your sale, advertise refrigerated drinks for $1 a can. You’ll be surprised by how many people buy!
The Night Before
• Make sure you have enough change on hand. You’ll need everything from $5 bills to dimes, so don’t forget to go to the bank if you need to.
• Find something safe to keep your money in, whether it’s a hidden jar, cash box or apron.
• Post another ad on the websites listed in the previous section
• If you belong to any local Facebook groups (and advertisements are okay), post a quick blurb that includes your address and the types of items you’ll be selling.
• Put up your ad signs. Don’t forget to hang them on both sides of the road, so drivers from either direction can see.
• Drag out the tables you’ll be using, and don’t forget a chair or two to sit on (and an umbrella if it’s going to be super sunny).
• If you’re going the soda/pop entrepreneur route, roll out your cooler or mini-fridge to ensure you have plenty of cans on hand.
The Morning Of
• Get your speakers out. Seriously. There’s nothing worse than awkwardly rolling up to a garage sale and feeling trapped by the silence. Throw on a radio station or an iPod shuffle to create a friendly ambiance.
• Place “hot ticket items” in a spot that’s easy to see from the road. Loads of people do the creepy slow drive by crawl to see if a sale is worth stopping for; this is a great way to lure them in.
• Put kids stuff – especially toys – at a kid friendly height. There’s a reason that grocery and department stores do this!
• If you have lots of electronics, set up a table with a (plugged in) power bar on it. It’s great for testing electronics right there, and gets rid of the “this doesn’t look like it works, I want a lower price” argument.
• Put a big FREE box out right at the front of your sale. Trust me, free stuff lures people in 100% of the time.
During Your Sale
• Say “hello” to each new person that arrives to quell awkwardness.
• Be kind and attentive, but don’t hover.
• Offer to wrap breakables up in newspaper, and have plastic bags on hand.
• Don’t be afraid to lower prices, or give combined discounts for multi-item purchases.
• Keep your pets a friendly distance away from your sale goers. You never know who’s scared of dogs/cats, or even worse, allergic.
• Lower prices over the course of the day. If it’s 2pm and you’re still at 70% item capacity, price to sell!
After Your Sale
• Everyone has leftovers. For the remainder of the day, leave them outside with a big FREE sign. If they don’t move by nightfall, drag everything in, and bag it up to take to the Goodwill or other donation spot.
• Count your cash!
• Take your street signs down – seriously, why don’t more people do this? We can see your address! We know where you live!